Social media is much more than just sharing food pics and cat memes. Okay, so maybe 80 percent of it is food and cats. But in all seriousness, there's a game being played on social media and it can be confusing if you're just now showing up to play.

We've compiled the most common and critical questions, and we're prepared to answer them all for you right now. If you're looking to network or run a campaign on social media, these answers will get you moving in the right direction.
1. Is social media important for my business?

Social media has become so ingrained throughout the Internet as a whole, it's now one in the same. This trend will only gain momentum as time rolls on. So even though you may be a little late to the party, it's still early in the grand scheme of things.

Social is becoming the go-to means for customer support, news updates and even lead generation. Brands that have a solid following and a long history will automatically command authority and trust within their marketplace versus competing brands without a presence. Too often, a prospect searches a hotel online before making a final booking. Seeing an updated social profile tells a lot about the property, especially the reviews and comments, and it definitely could be the deciding factor. 
2. Which social media platform is right for my business?
The most common choices for hotels are Twitter and Facebook. Some may opt for Instagram as an additional platform if they have unique, interesting pictures to share. For other businesses, it's beneficial to create a presence on other platforms, like LinkedIn, etc. In the end, it really depends on your target market.

For example, 65 percent of B2B companies have acquired a customer through LinkedIn. While 75 percent of B2C marketers have acquired a customer on Facebook. Google+ is used by many top B2B brands in the world, and is a great place to target the male demographic. Pinterest and Instagram are amazing platforms for e-commerce and/or companies with unique visuals.

All in all, it comes down to testing what works for your business. Pay close attention to your stats, test it and then tweak it. The best results don't always come from the most popular platforms.

3. Does social media work for B2B?

The problem many people face when approaching social media is they think they have a boring product. In this case, they are less inclined to participate in any form of real social interaction. The truth is, many B2B businesses are boring, but this doesn't have to stop them from building a massive following.

Too many B2Bs project their social voice in a many-to-one tone. This creates a very impersonal relationship with anyone who's reading the tweets, which is probably not very many. Updates need to be personal. Put a face or a name to the tweets and talk in the first person. When done this way, social media is just as beneficial.

4. What is social media intelligence?

Social media intelligence is the ability to use tools and statistics to track the effectiveness of your social strategy. This is done with the intent to optimize and increase follows, retweets, views, opt-ins, sales, etc. It requires a keen eye to see trends and analyze the data and use it to your advantage.

5. How can I use social media if I have limited time/resources?

If time is the issue, you can always outsource the job to a capable freelancer or employee. If this is the route you take, this person should be vetted heavily to make sure he or she benefit your business, not harm its reputation.

If you lack time and don't have the resources to hire someone, there's a way around that too. This involves spending time during peak hours to maximize your result vs. time spent ratio. There are two peaks each day for most platforms, mid/late morning and late afternoon. Posting during these times will maximize the number of views your posts will receive, while preserving your valuable time.

6. Is social media a great way to network with potential customers?

Social media is a great way to network with anyone. It puts you on their radar and gets your foot in the door. Even though social media is not meant for direct sales, it can definitely gain you some publicity that you would otherwise have a hard time earning. With a good following and a long history, your credibility goes up at a glance. Many businesses still don't use social media properly, so if you can differentiate yourself, you're ahead of the game. Again, you might not close many deals, but you can sure as heck get some people talking.

7. Is it possible to optimize social media for search engines?

In short, absolutely. Social media can be optimized for SEO much like any other Web page can. Using your business name as your profile/URL is important. Then solidify your standing by adding a consistent stream of sharp, valuable and keyword-rich content. Linking to your website helps create link juice, which is a big part of the ranking algorithm. 

8. How can I acquire more fans/followers?

Quantity isn't the biggest factor in utilizing social media. Having a targeted and relevant audience full of ideal customers is priority No. 1. Quality fans and followers will generate more views, shares, comments, clicks and even conversions.

If you want to organically increase your following there are a few tactics you can deploy. Follow notable leaders in your space, people who have more of a following than you do. Tweet relevant information, either educational, inspirational, funny or anything of value to your particular audience. Share/retweet and favorite/like often. Many people have notifications sent to their email account or phone; this will help you get on their radar and hopefully earn their coveted follow. Depending on your niche, social media activities like contests and games are not only fun, but also assist in gaining new followers. Make sure to offer some great incentive for participation – this is key.

9. How do I know that our social media efforts are working?

The benefits of social media aren't always so tangible. It can be hard to track, but not impossible. You'll want to start with the basic stats and reports provided by your platform. This information alone can be overwhelming, but it's the key to understanding how to tweak and optimize your strategy.

Once you have the platform side under control, it's time to start tracking your actual business goals. A service like Hubspot is a great way to efficiently track your social ROI.

10. How can I justify executing a social media campaign to unconvinced management?

Social media is still seen as a waste of time by many businesses. This stems from some of the problems we just covered in the previous question. Quite simply, it can be tricky to measure the ROI. It's best not to ruffle any feathers on the topic, but maybe come to a compromise. Spend a small amount of time testing a favorable platform, then show your stats and present a well developed argument for it. You might get a nod to continue, or even get a little more time allowance.

Presenting case studies of other companies in your industry is often the best route. This will reveal first-hand benefits and prove that not only can it be done, but it can be done in your industry. If your competition is using it successfully, you can bet that any remotely smart manager will want to get a piece of it too.

11. How much does a social media campaign cost?

When you're running the show, not only a paid campaign counts, but also your time. If you're paying someone to do it for you, you don't necessarily want to pay a cheap freelancer. If you don't have time to do it yourself, the biggest cost is the wages for a competent person to run the show. If you skimp out on this, you could be paying a much bigger price in the form of your reputation.

Take into consideration any paid advertising and promoting/boosting posts. Many platforms have a system that allows you to pay to have your post boosted and shown to a wider audience. This is beneficial when you release a new piece of content that is extremely valuable to your market.

12. How do I convince our sales teams and leaders that social media is important for our company?

Similar to No. 10, you'll want to look for evidence of successful campaigns within your industry. It is important to have a clear goal before actually measuring your campaign’s success. Start out by allotting a small amount of time to the campaign for testing purposes, whether tracking likes, website visits, engagement, etc. If the test shows potential, increase the time and effort spent toward it.

13. Who should manage my social media accounts?

If you're a small company, the responsibility may need to be a shared effort. In this case, it can be helpful to let your followers know which team member is posting. If you go the outsourced route, it's crucial to choose someone who's highly qualified and understands your business.
The candidate must also show care in written communication. Things can get lost in translation when there is no tone, so treading lightly is advised. Avoiding the overuse of emoticons can also help portray the proper tone to avoid offensive sounding posts.

14. Are there any social networks especially beneficial for small businesses?

For hotels, Facebook and Twitter are good platforms. Twitter is a great choice for fast-paced global businesses and independent professionals. Instagram can be hit-or-miss. The key here is the content – it has to be unique and visually appealing.  Google+ is a nice option if you want to improve your small business site’s visibility and search engine rankings. For B2B companies, two good choices are LinkedIn and LinkedIn SlideShare where you can find and connect with influencers in your industry.

15. Is social media a good customer service platform?

Without a doubt! Your customers are already there, and they may even be tweeting/sharing about your company. This is a great way to listen in on your customers comments and problems, respond when necessary, and earn some serious brownie points. Eighty-six percent say they respect a company more when they notice it addressing negative comments online.
Some larger companies even have a second account specifically for customer support. A representative of the company will sign on, announce his or her name at the beginning of their shift, and the floodgates open.

16. Any advice on how to convert my social media followers into customers?

Simply spamming links to a product page isn’t enough. In fact, this approach will quickly have you shunned in this social setting. In order to earn sales through social media, you have to offer something in return. Many people use social media for entertainment, discovery and learning. Offer something of value to your customers in exchange for an action, whether it is a share, booking, referral or purchase. Contests and giveaways are both popular means for sparking interest.

17. Are there any other tips for running a successful campaign?

Always follow the three Ts. Test, track and tweak. Planning a long-term campaign when you're new to the scene isn't advised. This is often true even for the veteran marketer. The landscape changes so often that new strategies and tactics are always popping up. Something will work well one month, but next month it could be completely backwards. Also, consistency and fresh content ideas are good practices. The community will often go to your page just to check out your most recent updates.

These are some of the most common and critical questions businesses have when approaching social media. Now that you're informed, it's time to dig in, get creative, experiment and get some results.